Why there is no upside to performing field sobriety tests

| Jul 6, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Many drunk driving arrests begin when the officer requests the driver to perform several standardized tests. An earlier blog entry described these standardized tests that motorists who get stopped on suspicion of DUI are asked to take.

Many drivers don’t realize that they have the right to refuse to perform these roadside tests. In reality, there is no good reason for any driver, drunk or not, to attempt these tests.

Taking them gives police and prosecutors evidence against you

You may think that there is no reason to refuse if you aren’t drunk. What you might fail to realize, however, is that nearly every police encounter is now caught on video dash cams and on body cams the officers wear. You are pulled over on the side of the road where traffic may be whizzing by only a few inches from you. The cop can be incredibly intimidating, barking commands at you while you struggle to hear and interpret their instructions correctly.

Your very natural state of nervousness at this turn of events can make you too shaky to stand still for a half minute on one foot. Meanwhile, the video records your every misstep and mistake and becomes part of the evidence that can later be used against you in court.

Many medical conditions preclude your passing field sobriety tests

Are you suffering from an inner ear infection? That alone could be enough to throw your equilibrium off enough to fail these tests miserably. Having a “lazy” eye could be interpreted as a failure of the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Just being overweight can create balance difficulties that can make a sober person appear intoxicated. And if you have a bad back, knees, ankles or hips, there is little chance that you could ever pass the walk and turn or one-legged stand test.

What you should do instead

Politely refuse to participate, announce that you choose to remain silent and do not answer any questions from police until you have the opportunity to consult with a criminal defense attorney. You don’t have to let a drunk driving charge ruin your life.